Is It Better to Repair or Replace Your Refrigerator?

Should you repair or replace your refrigerator

Have you been debating whether to repair or replace your broken refrigerator? There are a lot of factors that go into this decision-making process, and it’s not always easy. Consider your refrigerator’s age, the likely repair cost, replacement cost and the how much you paid for your refrigerator when making your decision.

Here’s some guidance to help you sift through the relevant factors and arrive at the repair/replace decision that’s right for you.

At What Age Should I Replace My Refrigerator Instead of Repairing It?

That’s a loaded question. There’s no exact age at which you should replace your refrigerator instead of repairing it. If your refrigerator is on its last leg after 20 years of faithful service, then it’s likely time to give it up. The decision is more complicated when your refrigerator is in the middle of its lifespan — typically 8 to 12 years.

You’ll typically need to factor in the repair cost when deciding whether to replace your mid-life fridge. A common formula for making a repair/replace decision is to replace the refrigerator when it’s more than halfway through its lifespan and the repair will cost more than half the price of a new fridge. That formula is simple to understand but not always easy to apply.

It’s often hard to know the repair cost that you’re facing without paying $100 or more for a diagnosis by a technician. Fridge repairs typically range from $150 to $1000. When anticipating likely refrigerator repair costs for your repair/replace decision, you can use the rough estimates for common refrigerator repairs at the end of this article as a guide.

Of course, to get the most accurate repair estimate, have a technician diagnose your refrigerator and provide an estimate of the repair. If you have a service tech diagnose the refrigerator, it’s best to be prepared to make your repair/replace decision as soon as you receive the estimate for the repair.

You’ll also need to figure out the replacement cost of a new refrigerator when deciding whether to repair and keep your current fridge. Don’t forget to add the cost of delivery and installation to your replacement cost calculation.

Here are some additional factors to consider when using the cost/age formula to make your repair/replace decision:

  • If you have a refrigerator that cost you more than $2000, you’ll rarely encounter a repair that will cost more than half the price of a new $2000+ refrigerator. You’re often better off repairing an expensive fridge in the middle of its life.

  • If you have an expensive refrigerator and you’re willing to downgrade to less expensive model, you can use the cost of the less expensive model in the cost/age formula. You may be more likely to purchase a new refrigerator rather than replacing your broken one when downgrading.

  • `If you have an inexpensive model that costs less than $800, then you may want to replace it if it’s facing a $400 compressor repair after only 5 years.

Using this guidance along with the general cost/age formula will help you make the repair/replace decision for your refrigerator when considering its age.

Should I Replace My Refrigerator When It Needs an Expensive Repair?

A repair bill over $600 is tough to swallow, but biting the bullet and making the repair is sometimes better than replacing your refrigerator. If you spent more than $2000 on your refrigerator and it’s less than 10 years old, then making the expensive repair is often more economical than replacing the fridge. You’ll likely be able to enjoy the full life of your refrigerator investment by making the repair.

It’s often more economical to replace the refrigerator when it needs a major repair toward the end of its useful life. Unless you’ve kept your refrigerator immaculately maintained and you’re certain that it will last another 8 to 10 years, you’ll probably need to start shopping for a new fridge when your current one needs a major repair.

Your refrigerator is typically the appliance that you depend on the most. It’s also one of the most expensive appliances to repair or replace. When you’re wondering whether you should repair or replace your refrigerator, consider the relevant factors and make the decision that’s right for you.

Rough Estimates of Common Refrigerator Repairs


Likely Repair

Estimated Repair Cost

Fridge and freezer won't cool Compressor replacement $400 to $600
Refrigerator not cooling well Defrost system repair $200 to $300
Not producing ice Replace ice maker $300 to $400
Won't power up Replace electronic control $600 to $800
Won't dispense ice Repair ice dispenser $300 to $400
Excessive frost in the freezer Door gasket replacement $200 to $300
Constant door open alarm Replace door switch $150 to $250